FARMINGTON— The Connie Mack season will be a learning experience for this year's Bayfield team.
Bayfield, a team made up of players from Alamosa, Durango, Pagosa Springs and Bayfield, all in Colorado, doesn't field the depth or possess the high-powered lineup to match their competition during the Connie Mack season, and the goal for the Bayfield squad is straightforward.
"We've got a lot of young guys so our goal is to get better," said Bayfield head coach Jonathon Qualls after Tuesday's 18-0 loss to the Sting at Ricketts Park. "We don't get to see this type of competition in our conference all that often so it's really just getting these guys some good competition and hope that they can grow."
Seven of Bayfield's players were part of the Bayfield High School team that finished the regular season with a 16-3 record before being upset in the Colorado 3A District 4 tournament by 28-seed La Junta 11-10. The surprising loss has cast a hangover on the squad that has followed them into the Connie Mack season.
"We played kind of bad and ever since then we have not played well," Qualls said. "We're trying to learn how to move past a bad loss and start playing good baseball again. It's tough to go out the way we did with a pretty tough loss and learn to bounce back from that."
The disappointment from the tournament loss has affected the Bayfield lineup from top to bottom, including its most dangerous hitter, Zane Phelps.
As a sophomore this past season, Phelps hit a staggering .575 to lead Bayfield, which averaged more than 11 runs per game.
"He had a really good high school season," Qualls said of the 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound catcher. "But we all have been struggling so far this season and that's Zane included. He hasn't been playing very well."
If Phelps can get the bat going, he may be able to spark an offense capable of putting multiple runs on the board. Bayfield boasts Taed Heydinger, batting leadoff, and Brody McGhehey, who sits in the No. 5 hole behind Phelps. Both Heydinger and McGhehey had averages north of .400 during the high school season and are capable of challenging opposing pitching staffs, but they too are struggling in the summer league.
"Hopefully they find their way out of it before too long," Qualls said. "We don't get that many games here at Connie Mack to really find our way so hopefully they bounce out of it in the next couple of games."